standing Rona Mann

Rona Mann

There are certain things that make me nauseous. I’m almost ashamed to say this, as someone who’s been living in Rhode Island for 32-plus years, much less in the Westerly area, but ... the smell of garlic throws my gag reflex right into high gear.

Athletes and movie stars who make millions of dollars a year for playing ball or playing make believe and are uber-spoiled, whiny children, also make me nauseous.

And then there’s that delightful harbinger of spring as it wafts through the Hopkinton country air ... chicken manure. Bleccch.

But there is absolutely nothing that turns my stomach like the concept of “politically correct.” That term is thrown around so loosely today, used as nothing more than an excuse for bad behavior or a sermon on the mount by those who don’t want to play by the rules or work hard to get ahead. By definition, politically correct is “language, policies, or measures intended to avoid offense or disadvantage to particular groups.”

But who is the arbiter? Who makes the rules? It seems as though everyone throws that term out if they’re not getting their way or they feel ultra-sensitive about something. If a Caucasian boss finds fault with work performed by an African American employee and confronts the person, he is immediately labeled “racist.”

If that same Christian boss criticizes a Jewish employee, they are not merely a superior correcting a worker. They are “anti-Semitic.”

It has even trickled down to our children, first in the schools, then on the playground. A couple of weeks ago a teacher in the North Providence school system sent home a letter to parents and guardians saying they would not be celebrating Valentine’s Day — there would be no exchanging of little cards, no candy, no mention of it at all, because it “might isolate those who didn’t get something from someone.”

So what? When I went to school, we brought in little Valentines made out to those whom we wanted to receive them and deposited them in a giant box. Then the teacher read off the names and handed out the “mail.” Sure, some got more than others, but everybody got something. So what if Susie knew Barbie liked her, but Tonya didn’t? She probably knew that already anyway. Then we all had cookies and milk and enjoyed the day. But no, the politically correct — “those who know best” — had to come along and ruin it. (NOTE: The mayor of Providence got involved, contacted the school superintendent, and put a stop to the madness quickly. Good for him.).

Still, politically correct also continues in schools who refuse to award prizes in a competition so as not to make those who didn’t win or don’t deserve it feel bad. So what? If someone doesn’t get a prize, it doesn’t tell that child they’re worthless, but maybe they just didn’t try hard enough and should work harder next time. When I went to school we had lessons, and that’s a lesson learned!

So where are we now? Here are some unbelievable but true examples of politically correct gone mad:

In some U.S. cities, “manholes” are now called “utility holes” or “maintenance holes”;

A school in Seattle renamed its Easter eggs as “spring spheres” to avoid causing offense to those not celebrating Easter;

Santa Clauses in Sydney, Australia aren’t allowed to utter “Ho, ho, ho” because it could frighten children and be derogatory to women;

And of course we in Rhode Island remember former Gov. Chafee and the “holiday tree” at the State House;

There must be something about Washington State taking politically correct to the max because again in Seattle the police are forbidden to use the term “suspects” — they are merely “community members,” and there are no “prisoners” or “inmates” in jail, but “students” in jumpsuits. So if I’ve got this right, if a “community member” is arrested for armed robbery or murder and found guilty, he or she is incarcerated as a “student?”

Have we all gone nuts? My neighbor lost the use of his legs in an accident years ago. He laughs as he recalls, “At first I was called ‘crippled,’ then ‘handicapped.’ Years later I was ‘disabled,’ now I’m ‘physically challenged.’ Fact remains, I can’t walk because my damn legs won’t work, so call it whatever you want!”

Sometimes when we take things too seriously, it just becomes comical or ridiculous.

Or, it can make you nauseous.

Rona Mann has been a freelance writer for The Sun for 17 years, including her “In Their Shoes” features. She can be reached at or 401-539-7762.

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